Adobe releases Creative Cloud 2018 with new Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, XD, Dimension, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Lightroom & more

You can now download Adobe CC 2018. We take a look at the new features in updates to Photoshop, XD, Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Character Animator and Dimension.

Today, from Las Vegas, Adobe has announced the new generation of Creative Cloud tools from its Adobe MAX conference.

There are four new applications – XD and Character Animator have moved from their beta stages, Dimension (previously Project Felix) and Photoshop Lightroom CC are new - the latter being a redesigned version of Lightroom with a new interface (the existing software still being available as Lightroom Classic).

Updates to its most-longstanding tools are limited - with little added to Photoshop, and especially Illustrator  (which turned 30 this year) and InDesign. For graphic designers there are updates to the Typekit and Adobe Stock services though. Updates to Adobe’s video software – Premiere Pro, After Effects, Character Animator – that were announced at IBC in September will also  now be released.

Adobe Creative Cloud 2018 should now be available for download through your Creative Cloud desktop application. Check out our in-depth Adobe CC buying guide here on Digital Arts and on Tech Advisor.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 has included not only slight, but very, helpful improvements to its UI, and also a bunch of new features alongside general performance improvements.

In Photoshop you can now open and edit 360-degree panoramic images, create more accurate and faster results with the Select and Mask functions, use a new Curvature Pen tool, have control over variable fonts, the choice of Microsoft Dial support, use a context-aware Properties Panel and get used to a much easier brush presets panel interface (with more mobility and collapsing options), smoother brush strokes for lines and curves – and even inclusion of Kyle T. Webster’s brushes.

If you’re new to Photoshop, there’s also a handy new Learn Panel and in-app, step-by-step instructions for basic tricks. When you hover your cursor over the tools bar, a helpful display box will show an animation explaining what the tool does – a feature Photoshop should have adopted years ago.

Check out our full feature on Photoshop CC 2018’s new features.

There’s only a few new features to Adobe Illustrator CC 2018.  There’s a new Puppet Warp tool under the Free Transform tool - a vector-specific version of the tool of the same name in Photoshop, which was added in Photoshop CS5. Here it lets you warp individual objects by placing pins on elements and pulling these around

For more info on the Puppet Warp tool in Photoshop, see our tutorials Mix 3D with fashion illustration and Create a stunning pin-up collage.

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However, the most significant update to Illustrator is the presence of a context-aware Properties Panel (again, similar to Photoshop's).

This means when you’re working with a specific tool, the Properties Panel will display options exclusive to that one tool, making your workflow much easier. There are also Artboard improvements, where you can now have up to 1,000 artboards per document. 

The new features in InDesign CC 2018 should be filed under 'minor but helpful'. You can create endnotes to documents, do more with Object Styles, add borders to paragraphs, and filter fonts in the Character panel.

You can also use text as well as images, swatches and fonts in Creative Cloud Libraries to share across projects and teams.

UX design software Adobe XD CC 2018 has been functioning in beta more for a while now, but Adobe has now launched the Adobe XD 1.0 version with new Creative Cloud Libraries support so you can drag and drop files into your project easily.

It’ll be easier for you to place an image from Adobe Stock inside your canvas and licence it from there, and the workflow between editing in Photoshop and moving files to XD should now be a whole lot easier.

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In Adobe XD CC 2018 you can now take a single element, and customise it in Design Mode and add interaction in Prototype Mode, such as making objects slide left or transition.

Preview your work on Desktop with the preview menu, or on a iOS or Android device. You can publish a shared prototype on the web and let stakeholders comment on it.

Coinciding with this is a new rival application for UX, web and app design. Prototyping platform InVision has launched the InVision Studio app for Mac and Windows, which includes a full set of design tools that work seamlessly with the main platform.

New features include an additional Symbol Panel, so you can add colours and character styles to your work more easily.

There’s also a separate Character Styles section of the panel, so you can right-click, edit and change any properties such as font size, and these changes will apply everywhere on your canvas.

Another new application from Adobe, Dimension CC is what used to be known as Project Felix – an app for photo illustration and retouch work, letting you combine 2D elements with 3D models, while rendering the results realistically.

Dimension allows you to work with true 3D assets in an interface design similar to Adobe XD, although its target audience is for designers who may already use Maxon Cinema 4D. Using Dimension, designers can bring in and position 3D and 3D elements with 3D space, as opposed to flat layers in Photoshop or Illustrator. Users can add texture and lighting, as seen here.

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As Project Felix moves into Dimension, users can now choose and download 3D assets from Adobe Stock to get started. Dimension will be more integrated integrated with Adobe’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) software Sensei, Photoshop and Illustrator.

It's worth mentioning at this point that Maxon has released Cineware for Illustrator, so you can use and edit 3D content inside Adobe’s app – as reference or for creating 3D artworks or product mockups.

One of the largest announcement in the new generation of Adobe Creative Cloud is the entirely new Lightroom application available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and Web. The new app is called Lightroom CC, and the old version is now called Lightroom Classic CC, and functions as a more stripped down app.

With Lightroom CC (what used to be known as Project Nimbus) geared toward the increase of image sharing on mobile devices, it now offers inbuilt tools so you can share directly to social media. It uses Adobe’s AI platform Sensei to automatically apply searchable keywords to objects in photographs, making your life a lot easier when scrolling through hundreds of photos. It will now offer 1TB of cloud storage.

With a redesigned, flatter UI you now can see what presets actually do with a Presets Slider. Adobe says not all photography concepts and terms are familiar to people, but a live animation visual tutorial in a display box will pop up when you hover your cursor over functions, so you know what your image will look like if you apply that function.

You can now edit and sync your photos across all different devices at any time, with a Lightroom CC iOS mobile version created for iPad and iPhone (with iOS 11 files support). There’s also a Best Photos machine learning tool, which helps to cull down loads of your images to the best ones using aesthetic ranking.

Lightroom Classic CC (previously Lightroom CC) includes an enhanced embedded preview workflow, so you can scroll through large sets of photos to select a subset of images significantly faster than before.

It also features a new colour range and Luminance Masking functionality. However, unlike the new Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC continues to focus on a traditional desktop-first workflow with local storage and file and folder control.

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At the IBC trade show in Amsterdam in September, Adobe officially announced new features coming to Premiere Pro, After Effects and live animation tool Character Animator – but now it’s officially rolling these updates out for you to use.

Character Animator was demonstrated at last year’s Adobe Max with a live The Simpsons episode. Character Animator is now moving from beta or ‘preview’ to Character Animator 1.0. The tool will offer pose-to-pose movement – only moving between set poses as it follows your movements and speech. This means the end character will feel more natural compared with motion-capture, offering accurate mouth shape and spoken sound, for example. You’ll also be able to animate 2D puppets and edit your animated characters in Photoshop or Illustrator.

A new Perform Panel gives you different hand poses, for example, that you can trigger using keyboard shortcuts or a MIDI keyboard.

Similar to Character Animator, Adobe's After Effects CC 2018 was announced at IBC including one notable new feature – creating data-driven animations.

This means designers can create anything from a wide range of graphs, to more complex infographics using paths or masks based on data. Anyone working with type will appreciate the full support of ligatures within typefaces – and you can work with Adobe Typekit fonts too.

AE will be able to use motion graphics templates from Adobe Stock (also available in Premiere Pro) – which will offer a selection of titles, lower thirds, bumpers and closing credits. These will also be available in the next version of Premiere Pro. There are also GPU performance enhancements making effects like Motion Blur easier.

The next version of Premiere Pro will see Mettle's Skybox tools for 360-degree video editing – which Adobe bought back in June – integrated directly into Adobe's editor. This means that they're GPU-enhanced (whether you have a AMD or Nvidia graphics card) and run faster overall.

When reviewing 360 footage in a VR headset (Oculus Rift or HTC Vive) you can use your controllers to scrub your timeline and set markers. You can see a section of your timeline, containing only what Adobe says are "the most meaningful parts" for the review process.

You can also have multiple projects open at once and copy-&-paste between them, and frames around titles will now automatically resize as you edit the text. And of course they’ll be motion graphics templates accessible in Premiere Pro.

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Adobe is adding Japanese native stocks into its image library Stock, and Typekit is adopting Adobe’s new visual search tools.

Similar to the technology recently launched in Adobe Stock where you can search for other images based on one image, you’ll be able to do the same for Typekit – search for similar typefaces based on one typeface, as seen here. The visual search tool will also be available in the Adobe Capture app.

3D objects and motion graphics templates will now be available in Adobe Stock.

Pricing remains the same for all Creative Cloud plans apart from the Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which has had an update. It will now cost US$9.99 per month for Lightroom CC, Classic CC, Photoshop and 20GB storage.

Or you can opt for $19.99 per month with 1TB of cloud storage ($14.99 per month for current customers, first year only).

The Lightroom CC plan will give you access to Lightroom CC and 1TB storage for $9.99.

There’s also a new Lightroom Mobile plan for iOS and Android, for $4.99 per month.